Two movements among Christian congregations in the U.S. today, churches with multiple locations (multisite) and leadership development (discipleship), continue to gain momentum as new innovations are being introduced. In addition, perhaps in an even newer development, a growing number of churches are intentionally developing a culture of generosity, an effort to help carry the gospel message outside the church, says the director of new media and technology for the Leadership Network.
"The multisite (one church, multiple locations) movement continues to gain momentum," Todd Rhoades, of Leadership Network, told The Christian Post via email. "We're seeing no slow down at all in the number of churches being involved in multisite ministry. In fact, we're seeing new waves of innovation in the movement itself: including international campuses, online campuses, the move from big cities to rural environments, and more churches partnering to redeem facilities and struggling churches through church mergers."
Rhoades, along with Leadership Nework, hosted a webcast conference on Tuesday called, Church Innovate North America. Guest speakers, which included pastors from around the country, spoke about multisite churches, leadership training, and generosity. more >>
More good news concerning U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini has followed his release from solitary confinement last week, as reports have suggested the global support he has been receiving while in prison in Tehran, Iran, are helping him find joy and peace.
"Despite his suffering, Pastor Saeed's faith continues to keep him alive. Other prisoners reportedly told Saeed's family that when Pastor Saeed was released from solitary confinement, 'he was glowing,' and that miraculously he 'was filled with more joy and peace after solitary' than he was before solitary," the American Center for Law and Justice said in a statement on Tuesday.
The American pastor is said to be suffering from medical problems, including kidney issues, as he serves the eight-year sentence handed to him in January by the Iranian court for "endangering national security." The ACLJ, which represents his wife and two children back in the U.S., has said that Abedini is being unfairly targeted for his Christian faith in the largely Muslim-dominated country, and that he is being denied the medical care he needs. more >>
Singapore's Commissioner of Charities(COC) has given City Harvest Church Pastor Kong Hee and seven of his staff more time to submit official protests against a proposal to have them permanently removed from the ministry's board. The COC has also lifted its suspension of Kong's wife, Sun Ho, allowing her to resume her executive duties at the church. The news comes just two days before Kong heads to court to fight charges related to the mishandling of church funds.
In a statement shared with supporters on City Harvest Church's Facebook page and website Monday, Executive Pastor Aries Zulkarnain revealed, "This morning, Sun, wife of our senior pastor Kong Hee received a letter from the Commissioner of Charities. In the letter, COC informed Sun that the suspension of her status as an Executive member of City Harvest Church has been lifted. The suspension of her executive powers has also been lifted.
"Both suspensions have been lifted with immediate effect. Sun is once again able to exercise her executive powers for City Harvest Church. She is once again an Executive member of the church she co-founded." more >>
The past year has seen a bevy of faith-based reality programming from major networks like TLC, Lifetime and BET. Now, Oxygen Media is joining the pack with its own reality show looking at the lives of Southern California pastors, tentatively titled "Pastors of L.A."
The "authentic new docu-series" starring Bishop Noel Jones, Deitrick Haddon and four other high-profile Christian ministers is scheduled to debut in the fall of this year, and appears to follow in the vein of BET's "The Sheards" and WE tv's "Mary Mary" – promising viewers an inside look at the lives of popular and otherwise inaccessible men of faith.
"'Pastors of L.A.' will give viewers a candid and revealing look at six boldly different and world renowned mega-pastors in Southern California, who are willing to share diverse aspects of their lives, from their work in the community and with their parishioners to the very large and sometimes provocative lives they lead away from the pulpit," according to a press release from Oxygen. more >>
A poll commissioned by evangelical Christian group BioLogos found that pastors hold a variety of views when it comes to the origin of life and science, though Young Earth Creation remains the most popular theory.
The survey was conducted in 2012 by the Barna Group, which asked 743 Protestant pastors from churches across various Christian denominations in the U.S. to share their origin of life views. While BioLogos asked a variety of questions and is putting together a comprehensive, in-depth report in the coming months, the group released last week some key findings.
"The numbers varied widely based on a number of factors, however. Pastors of mainline churches were most likely to accept Theistic Evolution, while non-Mainline, Charismatic, and Southern Baptist pastors were overwhelmingly Young Earth Creationists. Pastors of larger churches were also more likely to accept Theistic Evolution," BioLogos said of the results. more >>
After spending his 33rd birthday inside the "small dark hole" of solitary confinement, U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini has been returned to the general prison population of Evin Prison in Iran.
"His release from solitary is a direct result of the multitudes praying. I am relieved my husband is out of solitary, but still am deeply concerned about Saeed's health. While this is a small victory, I am still demanding justice be done and that Saeed be released," Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, said in a statement posted by The American Center for Law and Justice.
The pastor, who has been in jail in Tehran since September 2012 and was sentenced to eight years in prison in January, supposedly for endangering national security, had been in solitary confinement for more than a week. more >>